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AN  IRISH TRAGEDY
especially toward her, in the form of anxiety for her recovery,
and, coming at a time [when he had just broken with the girl he
really wanted] when he felt obliged to suppress his former
passion, prepared the way for tenderer and warmer feelings/
Hamilton in short was properly hooked by an ailing female who
was to become a semi-invalid for the rest of her life and who,
either through incompetence or ill-health, let her husband's
slovenly servants run his house as they chose, which at least in
some quarters - especially his study - came to resemble a pig-
sty. Hamilton needed a sympathetic woman with backbone to
keep him and his domestic affairs in some semblance of order;
instead he got a weakling.
Ten years after his marriage Hamilton tried to pull himself up
short on the slippery trail he realized with a brutal shock he was
treading. As a young man, feted and toasted at dinners, he had
rather let himself go, especially as his great gifts for eloquence
and conviviality were naturally enough heightened by a drink
or two. After his marriage, irregular meals or no meals at all, and
his habit of working twelve or fourteen hours at a stretch, were
compensated for by taking nourishment from a bottle.
It is a moot question whether mathematical inventiveness is
accelerated or retarded by moderate indulgence in alcohol, and
until an exhaustive set of controlled experiments is carried out
to settle the matter, the doubt must remain a doubt, precisely
as hi any other biological research. If, as some maintain, poetic
and mathematical inventiveness are akin, it is by no means
obvious that reasonable alcoholic indulgence (if there is such a
thing) is destructive of mathematical inventiveness; in fact
numerous well-attested instances would seem to indicate the
contrary. In the case of poets, of course, 'wine and song' have
often gone together, and in at least one instance - Swinburne 
without the first the second dried up almost completely. Mathe-
maticians have frequently remarked on the terrific strain
induced by prolonged concentrations on a difficulty, and some
have found the let-down occasioned by a drink a decided relief.
But poor Hamilton quickly passed beyond this stage and be-
came careless, not only in the untidy privacy of his study, but
also in the glaring publicity of a banquet hall. He got drunk at
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